Saturday, May 16, 2015

Reading Room FANTASY MASTERPIECES "Those Who Change"

We wind up this issue with a Stan Lee / Steve Ditko piece...
...that takes the old "if you time travel, don't change anything in the past" concept to an extreme!
This story from Amazing Adult (wonder why they left that out of the reprint credit) Fantasy #10 (1962) was actually a reworking of an earlier Stan Lee-written tale called "The Scientists" from Astonishing #9 (1952) which was longer and had additional plot twists!
You'll be seeing the original (ironically, never-reprinted) version sometime in the next two weeks.
As for this particular tale, since its' 1965 appearance in Fantasy Masterpieces #1, it lay unseen until 2005 when it popped up in Marvel Visionaries: Steve Ditko with additional reprintings in Amazing Fantasy Omnibus (2007) and Marvel 70th Anniversary Collection (2009)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Reading Room FANTASY MASTERPIECES "I Saw the Other World!"

"...if ever a man was born to draw comics, Darlin' Dick Ayers is that pussycat!"
"He's still as much of a comic book fan as any of our rollicking readers!"
Dick Ayers penciled and inked this story from Tales to Astonish #7 (1960) which was also reprinted recently in Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Tales to Astonish #1 (2006).
It's believed that Stan Lee plotted and Larry Lieber wrote captions and dialogue for the tale.
Tomorrow, the final story from Fantasy Masterpieces both of Spider-Man's co-creators!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Reading Room FANTASY MASTERPIECES "I Became a Human Robot"

"Employing a style that combines decorative embellishment with crisp, clear, no-nonsense storytelling..."
"...this talented artisan (Joe Sinnott) has long been one of the most durable and dependable of illustrators." --Stan Lee
Note: this story was originally presented in Tales of Suspense #5 (1959), not Suspense, which was a 1940s-1950s Atlas comic based on the popular radio and TV anthology series of the same name!
In terms of the story itself, how did the scientists know the button on the robot's head would turn it on/off?
And, more importantly, why did the aliens put it there when they built the automaton?
Why not somewhere a little less obvious?
Since the writer is unknown, there's no way to ask him/her.
Joe Sinnott is best-known to Marvel fans as one of the slickest inkers ever, making great pencils look amazing, and salavaging mediocre pencils with his slick style.
Oddly, almost all his Silver Age pencil work was for other companies like Gold Key and Charlton, on licensed titles like 12 O'Clock High, religious-themed stories for Treasure Chest, and romance books, usually inked by Vince Colletta, who obliterated much of the detail work!
BTW, unlike the other Fantasy Masterpieces tales we've presented, this one was reprinted fairly recently, in Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Tales of Suspense #1 (2006)
Tomorrow, another Silver Age stalwart shows us "how it's done".

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Reading Room FANTASY MASTERPIECES "I Found the Things from Nowhere"

"Not only is Jolly Jack Kirby the undisputed king of superhero artwork..."
"...from The Fantastic Four to long-haired Thor, but he is equally without peer in almost every type of imaginative, far-out fantasy!" --Stan Lee
This tale from Marvel's Fantasy Masterpieces #1 (1965) originally-appeared in Journey into Mystery #60 (1960), and was reprinted, again, in Where Monsters Dwell #9 (1971), but hasn't appeared anywhere in the last 44 years.
That's a pity, since this Jack Kirby-penciled/Steve Ditko-inked story predates both the Kirby-rendered "The Man in the Ant Hill" (Tales to Astonish #27) which introduced Henry Pym who would become..., you guessed...ANT-MAN...
(Wonder what ever became of him?)
...and Amazing Fantasy #15, featuring Steve Ditko's most famous co-creation...
..your friendly, neighborhood SPIDER-MAN!
BTW, has anyone ever noticed that Ant-Man's and Spider-Man's costumes have opposite/reversed red/blue color schemes?
As for who wrote this tale, the experts believe it's a Stan Lee-plotted, Larry Lieber-scripted story, but I think Lee scripted it as well.
Tomorrow: Another Silver Age artist struts his stuff in a long-unseen short!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Reading Room FANTASY MASTERPIECES "Beware!! The Ghosts Surround Me!"

"This great yarn, which might have taken place today..."
" concrete evidence to the claim that Dashin' Donnie Heck is perhaps our most sophisticated artist!" --Stan Lee
The odd choice of panels to illustrate the story on the bottom left of the cover...
...does give away a crucial plot point, that the "ghosts" are nothing of the kind!
(I would've used a cropped version of the splash page which gives more of a "ghostly" feel than obviously-alien interdimensional beings.)
Penciled and inked by Don Heck, this appearance in Fantasy Masterpieces #1 (1965) was the tale's second reprinting since its' debut in Strange Tales #76 (1960)!
The first was in Strange Tales Annual #1 (1962).
It appeared one more time, in Vault of Evil #19 (1975), which still makes it 40 years since the story's last publication, and many readers of this blog have never seen it.
As for who wrote it, the consensus is that Stan Lee plotted it, but his brother Larry Lieber (Stan's real name was "Stanley Lieber"*) wrote the captions and dialogue.
Tomorrow, another sci-fi/fantasy tale by one of the artists who defined the Marvel Age of Comics!

*Stan had his name legally changed to "Stan Lee".

Monday, May 11, 2015


Face Front, True Believer...
Beginning tomorrow, and for the rest of the week, we'll be presenting the tantalizing tales Smilin' Stan described lurking behind this colorful cover 50 years ago.
(And dig those MadMan-era threads!)
The anthology proved popular enough to keep going for several years, adding Golden Age superhero reprints, and, eventually, becoming a launch platform for both Captain Marvel (The third one, aka Captain Mar-Vell of the Kree) and the Guardians of the Galaxy!
But it was these sci-fi tales by the guys who were doing the Marvel super-heroes, that grabbed my attention!
(Not to mention the sheer chutzpah and showmanship of Stan the Man, linking the tales to the artists who were already becoming the first nerd culture celebrities!)
Be here tomorrow to discover (or re-discover) the magic!